BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — A Jefferson County organization has terminated its Head Start staff, saying that those impacted can reapply for their jobs.
In a letter dated Nov. 23, Brenda Singellos, Chief Human Resources Officer of the Jefferson County Committee for Economic Opportunity, notified all Head Start staff by letter that they would receive a termination letter from JCCEO effective Monday, the day before the letter was sent.
The letter said that “all Head Start staff will have the opportunity to apply for all open positions.” Singgellos did not address, however, how many open positions and when they would be available.
JCCEO, Singgellos said, is relinquishing responsibility for its Head Start program, resulting in the layoffs.
The program will be temporarily operated by the Community Development Institute’s Office of Head Start (CDI HS) while federal officials find a suitable replacement to run it.
“You can file for unemployment until you are hired by CDI or if you do not wish to apply with the new company,” the letter advised Head Start employees.
Childcare Resources Executive Director Joan Wright said it is ready to help fill this void. It has a free, customized childcare search families can go online right now to look for help.
“Our new database that we recently had updated is a great tool and we can help those families find some good childcare options for them,” Wright said. “We are here to help families navigate their childcare options.”
Childcare Resources is also a Head Start provider – and if spaces are available, Wright said it can help with that for families as well.
On Wednesday, President of the Board of Directors Gary Richardson said the rest of the organization could go under without financial help from the City of Birmingham or Jefferson County by Friday after nearly 60 years of service.
“We provide a lot of services and have for a long time and really provide a greater good, and we shouldn’t be punished by the misgiving of some individuals who didn’t mean this organization any good,” Richardson said. “To have a program and an organization threatened by the action of an executive director, one person, to uproot an organization that’s been around for nearly 60 years in this community it really vexes my spirit.”
Richardson said the board is asking for half of the almost $3 million he told CBS 42 earlier this week was mismanaged. The employees were paid during the last pay period, but Richardson said there is not enough to get through the end of the year for JCCEO’s 258 employees.
“We’ve really got to be smart about how we go forward with this in making sure that those services can go forward, but also the money that is intended for those services is getting where it needs to get,” Birmingham City Councilman Clinton Woods told CBS 42 on Tuesday.
Woods said the city needs to get with JCCEO leadership to talk about the issue more in depth.
Wright said anyone impacted by layoffs at JCCEO can apply on indeed.com for open positions at Childcare Resources if they do not wish to re-apply for their positions at JCCEO.
You can read the letter in full below.